This article relates to the Work/Life Balance competency, which investigates how your staff feels with regard to the balance between work and personal life. It explores issues such as priority of family and hours on the job, also covered in this competency. Organizations that enjoy a high satisfaction level in this area will normally exhibit a low rate of absenteeism and experience higher employee retention. Evaluating this competency is helpful in understanding issues relating to a workforce that is commonly tardy or absent from work.
This article, Employee Ideas Achieve Work Life Balance, is part of AlphaMeasure's compilation, Tales from the Corporate Frontlines. It illustrates how one group of employees worked together to find new ways to achieve a healthy balance between the demands of work and personal or family life.
I work as an office assistant with a small business that deals in the distribution of swimming pool chemicals and supplies. Our peak periods are somewhat cyclical - busy times fall into seasonal periods, and in the peak months it is not uncommon for our staff to spend 70 to 80 hours per week at the office.
I am a long-term employee of this company, and while the added hours may have upset my work life balance in the past, the extra overtime pay usually offset the inconveniences in my personal life. Until two years ago, that is. About that time, my elderly mother began to need more care, and more of my time. My children began to complain that I was too seldom available to attend their sporting and school events.
I mentioned this to my coworkers one day, as I sat down in the break room after my second lunchtime interruption by phone call. Although it was crazy at work, things were even worse at home, I told them. The pressure and stress were really building at this point.
I was surprised to discover that my coworkers were experiencing the same problems with work life balance. "We need to have flex time", one of them said. "We should be able to decrease our working hours during the slow months, take a break and catch up with our families and personal obligations, and just relax." Everyone agreed --- but how could it be handled? We spent some time over the next few days devising a flextime plan that allowed each of us to take a break and work a reduced schedule once the slow season arrived. We could spend the extra time away from work catching up on the family activities, household maintenance, and general relaxation.
We discussed the plan with our supervisor, who set up a meeting with the owners of the company. It turned out that they were very positive about our proposal, as cash flow was weak during the slow periods, and our plan would be good for business in the long run. Our employers had also recently become concerned about morale, and having finally achieved a fully skilled and trained staff---they didn't want any of us to leave.
Last year, we began our flextime schedule. Morale improved - both at home and at work, for the entire staff. We have reached a viable work life balance, and all it took was a little consultation and creative scheduling.
The busy months are still harrowing, but knowing that a slowdown is ahead makes a huge difference in our morale, mental focus, and productivity ---both on and off the job.
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Josh Greenberg is President of AlphaMeasure, Inc.
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